I read with bemusement the chorus of opposition against National Under-15 Football coach, Stuart Charles-Fevrier following the team's losing performances in the recently concluded CONCACAF Championship campaign earlier this month in Florida, USA and the TTFA Under-15 Youth Invitational International Tournament held here in July.
Among those most scathing in their criticism were former Malick Senior Secondary Coach and current Board Director of the TTFA, Keith Look Loy and former Technical Director of the TTFA Anton Corneal, both of whom laid the blame for the team's losing performances squarely on coach Charles-Fevrier's shoulders.
Look Loy saw it as “weaknesses in coaching, a lack of team structure, low-intensity play and poor defending”, while Corneal suggested that Charles-Fevrier did not have the required experience and was operating by guess and further that one cannot play 'trial and error with the nation's children'.
While the performances of the team were admittedly disappointing, it is worth noting that the coach's long term ambitions remain this country's qualification for 2021 Under-17 World Cup.
The purpose of these development tournaments is among other things, to allow coaches to experiment liberally with their players and to allow each player sufficient playing time to be better able to measure their respective aptitudes and weaknesses. While winning is important, it is not at this stage a priority in the context of the team's long term ambitions of qualifying for the Under- 17 World Cup in over two years.
The sprinter preparing for the Olympics does not try to win every race that he runs in the buildup but rather his objective is to peak at the right time. Battles are inevitably lost on the way to winning the war.
Those who claim that coach Charles-Fevrier lacks the requisite experience will do well to remember that as Trinidad and Tobago's senior national football team coach in 2003, he led the Soca Warriors on a three-week tour of Kenya, Botswana and South Africa where they won, drew and lost respectively to those countries' national senior teams.
The last game against South Africa saw the Soca Warriors undone by a controversial penalty awarded by a South African referee when the score was 1-1, thus enabling the Bafana Bafana to emerge victorious 2-1.
Coach Charles-Fevrier also served as Technical Director of the National senior team with Jamal Shabbaz as national coach.
He attended and completed coaching courses with both the English and the Brazilian Football Associations. His success with W Connection is legendary being named Coach of the Year on many occasions and winning numerous FA Trophy Titles, President's Cups, National League Championships and the FCB Cup title.
Those who are loudest in their criticism fear that coach Charles-Fevrier's ambition to lead this country to a World Cup final may eventually be realised with a team that is talented and gifted and he would have succeeded where they have failed.
They have therefore pounced on the team's losses as the justification to warrant Charles-Fevrier's sacking but this is nothing more than a cloaked desire to crush the coach's yet unhatched ambitions in the egg. Those who are loudest in their condemnation of the coach are fearful that he will succeed where they have failed.
This insecurity lies in the fact that Charles-Fevrier is St. Lucian born. Ironically, he lived most of his life here in T&T after he migrated as a teenager and perfected his craft as a resolute defender in our local leagues.
He reached his pinnacle as a player by playing for this country's first professional crack outfit ASL that boasted players of the calibre of Ron La Forest, Leroy Spann, Brian Williams, Sammy Llewellyn, among others.
Former national star striker La Forest, a former teammate of coach Charles-Fevrier at ASL and an experienced coach at present, was the most intellectually honest and measured in his comments. He urged patience where others sought the coach's termination.
La Forest said it best, “Let the coach do his thing. He is a very experienced man and it is not a quick fix. Give him more time and you will see a difference.”
A proper dietary regime along with a qualified psychologist is a sine qua non for a holistic development of these young men who are products of a society riddled with drugs, crime and all manner of socially disruptive ills and who therefore require our collective protection, mentoring and guidance as we prepare for the 2021 World Cup qualifiers which will soon be upon us.
Coach Charles-Fevrier remains my local choice to get us there.
Peter A.C. Taylor
Attorney at Law
Former Minister of Legal Affairs